Thursday, January 20, 2011

A few of my favorite things.......

Sung to the melodic tone by Julie Andrews, but nothing to do with whiskers on kittens.

Over the years though, I have developed an affection for a number of what I now feel to be indespensible running accessories - or at least well worth the dough I dropped out of my tight little fist for.

One such item is my Garmin GPS running watch. It's not the new fangled fancy one with the touch screen bezel. It's the old, klunky Forerunner 305. It's a behemoth by Today's standard, but it's still one of my favorite running accessories.

On the nice to have side of the equation, it allows me to run pacing workouts without being on the track or a measured course. When out for a run, I can explore a new trail and still have a good idea of what distance I've run for the day without mapping it all out on MapMyRun.com - which is a great site, but removes some of the spontaneity of last minute route changes, either because of trail conditions or an interest to explore a trail that didn't show up on the Google satellite view.

But the indispensable part comes from the number of times it has saved me from being late for a morning meeting when I'm running in a new city and realize that I've gotten turned around. I don't know how you folks without a nearby mountain range do it. In Colorado, we just look up and always know which way is west.

This morning was number 4 in such savings. I was out on some twisty trail system in Houston. I was doing a progressive pacing workout and what I had planned to be an 8 mile run. After mile 6 or so, I was winding down from my progression and headed in the direction I thought would take me back to the hotel. But then as I approached a key intersection, I realized that the cross street was not the name I was expecting.

Now this is bad because I had only allotted time for about 8 miles. Someone was scheduled to pick me up and we had a client meeting to make across town.

Not to fear. Because I have gotten into the habit of setting a 'way point' whenever I step out the hotel door. For those who aren't GPS savvy, a way point is like an electronic push pin in a map. You simply select 'find way point' on the watch, and it Immediately shows you an arrow pointing you back to that point and a distance to that point. In this instance, the arrow was pointing directly behind me, meaning I was running in the exact opposite direction of the hotel.

Luckily, I had only run a mile in the wrong direction, so I had added two miles total to my run. A quick calculation told me that I'd have about 16 minutes cut from my morning routine when I got back to the hotel. And most of those things are important. Like eating, showering, dressing, etc. So I sped up and ga e myself another couple minutes. I ran confidently, my GPS watch pointing mr the way home.

It's an awesome feature of the watch for someone that travels as much as me. Especially in China where the manic street directions, unfamiliarity with the street names and thick fog that obscures buildings even when you are only 100m away from them can make a place you've been a dozen times look totally different.

My Garmin watch is definitely better than whiskers on kittens. Unless of course you were a kitten... Since....uhhmmm....I think they need whiskers and can't really operate a GPS watch.

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